Eight UMMC Health Care Professionals Named 2011 Health Care Heroes Finalists
Nomination for Erika D. Feller, M.D.
Erika D. Feller, M.D.,
is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the
medical director of heart transplantation at the
University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
Time after time, Dr. Feller has gone above and beyond to save the lives of her critically ill
patients with prompt, expert medical care and also by advocating for them to receive Social
Security disability eligibility sooner.
Here are just three recent examples of her dedication and the lifesaving results:
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- Dr. Feller brought a young Georgia man to Baltimore on a medevac flight within 36 hours of
hearing from his local doctor that he would not survive much longer without a
rare heart and
liver transplant. The patient, David Krech, was very sick when he arrived at the University of
Maryland Medical Center in early May. Dr. Feller immediately admitted him and began therapy to
keep his heart working. He was listed for the combined heart/liver transplant and had to wait
five months until a suitable donor became available on October 15. Due to Dr. Feller's excellent
care, Krech was able to leave the hospital, staying in Baltimore as he waited for the transplant.
During that time, his heart actually got stronger, putting him in better physical shape to
withstand the transplant surgery. Read
more about this story from WBAL-TV.
- At the start of Maryland's record snowstorm last February, a donor heart became available that
was a likely match for Dr. Feller's patient, Michael
Yater, a 51-year-old gravely ill Essex man on the hospital's transplant waiting list.
Dr. Feller, who remained at the hospital throughout the week-long blizzard, urged Mr. Yater to
get to the hospital as quickly as possible to avoid rapidly deteriorating travel conditions.
He made it in and the following day, tests on the donor heart confirmed the match and Mr. Yater
was able to have his lifesaving transplant. He made a great recovery, is still doing well, has
resumed working and is able to enjoy time with his grandchildren.
- Dr. Feller is passionate about helping her patients and is especially tuned in to the many issues
they face that may be related to their illness. For example, she testified in Baltimore at a
Social Security Administration hearing on speeding up eligibility for disability assistance
for people with severe heart disease. Dr. Feller said many of her patients, who are extremely
sick, face financial ruin while they wade through a long process to qualify for disability.
She said that social security forms frequently arrive several months after the patient has been
diagnosed with major, life-altering cardiac disease. It can take another six months to begin
receiving assistance. By then, patients have been forced to stop working, leaving their families
without a source of income. One patient couldn't pay her mortgage and other patients have
delayed getting treatment so they could continue working, putting their health at serious risk.
She says the patients affected most are middle-income working families.
February 11, 2011.
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